The XFL brings spring football and a ton of opportunity in betting markets. We’ve already seen Week 1 lines swing wildly and futures prices all over the place. It’s very clear that few people (including oddsmakers) have any clue about the players, the coaches or what will happen.
Whereas I rarely think there is an edge in extremely liquid markets like NFL and NBA sports betting, I do think there are large inefficiencies in niche sports markets. The limits are often low enough to keep ultra sharps and syndicates away. That keeps oddsmakers’ attention away from these niche markets, allowing lines to get extremely sloppy.
The first thing we can do is embrace the uncertainty. In other words, people know Landry Jones and Bob Stoops, so they are the favorite. In reality, Dallas at +350 to win the title or Tampa over 7.5 wins are really thin bets. We just don’t know enough to lay that kind of wood.
Once we understand and embrace the uncertainty, we can mix in some of our own research. With that in mind, here’s my look at the futures market on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Set your lineups here: XFL $350K Kickoff Special [$100K to 1st]
Houston Roughnecks: +900Only the very shaky coaching staff of the St. Louis Battlehawks (+1000) and the talent-deficient Seattle Dragons (+1200) have worse odds than the Roughnecks. Given the XFL’s rules which heavily favor the offense, the Roughnecks have the correct scheme. Head coach June Jones will run an extreme version of the Run-n-Shoot offense, which means throwing the ball on 70-plus percent of the plays.
That style can work when you have two competent QBs (PJ Walker, Connor Cook), one of the league’s best pass-catching running backs in De’Angelo Henderson and a top-2 receiving corps. Sammie Coates has legit NFL attributes, Kahlil Lewis is a borderline NFL player and Cam Phillips caught a massive 236 balls in 49 games at Virginia Tech.
Tampa Bay Vipers +450This line is almost certainly tied to Marc Trestman. As one of the CFL’s most successful coaches of all-time, the narrative follows that he’ll be successful in the XFL. That may be true, but the market has overreacted to the possibility. Note that Aaron Murray couldn’t beat out Matt Simms for a starting job in the AAF last spring and their wideout corps is very underwhelming.
Los Angeles Wildcats +650Josh Johnson projects as one of the best quarterbacks – if not the best – in the league. But he’s questionable for Week 1 due to a thigh injury. If he can’t go or is limited, the Wildcats will be forced to start Chad Kanoff and could mix in Jalen McClendon. They’re reasonably likely to drop their Week 1 game at Houston, which should send their title odds to +800 or longer. Assuming Johnson will be back for Week 2, that’s a nice price. Note that two teams from each of the four-team divisions make the playoffs – there are no byes.
MY WIN TOTAL PROJECTIONS
These are my win total projections for the regular season:
WESTERN CONFERENCEHouston: 6.75
Los Angeles: 4.25
EASTERN CONFERENCEWashington: DC 5.75
New York: 5.75
Tampa Bay: 4.75
St. Louis: 3.75
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